Friday, January 17, 2014

Change at the Oregon Transportation Commission; Minto Bridge Moves Forward

You probably saw the notice that the Oregon Transportation Commission had advanced the draft 2015-18 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which includes the final round of funding for the Minto Bridge.

So it is likely that will close this year. Hooray!

The bridge is getting closer -
the OTC advanced the final round of funding
For the meeting yesterday, the OTC conducted a conference call, and ODOT didn't send out a press release about it, I think. At any rate I missed it, but the agenda was short, and not all that interesting.

But what is interesting - though admittedly it's in an inside baseball kind of way - was notice in the Oregonian that the OTC is heading for significant turn-over.

Moving to Vegas
Resigned for Health
Harry Esteve writes:
Pat Egan, a longtime Oregon political insider who has been influential in utility and transportation issues, has left his post at PacifiCorp to become a vice president at NV Energy, a major western utility based in Las Vegas....

He was a key backer of the Columbia River Crossing.

Ian Greenfield, spokesman for Gov. John Kitzhaber, confirmed Egan's departure, and said Thursday's commission meeting would be the last one he chairs....

A second commissioner, Mary Olson, is leaving for health reasons, said Patrick Cooney, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
And a third commissioner, Mark Frohnmayer, appears not to have been reappointed or is leaving and serving out until a new person is appointed.

Term Expired?
So that's 3/5 of the Commission!

If the Legislature can stand firm and kill the CRC in its present incarnation, there's an opportunity for Governor Kitzhaber to continue reshaping the OTC for the 21st century.  Frohnmayer comes from the electric car lobby, and Tammy Baney, a Deschutes County Commissioner is described as "a champion for integrating community health reform into transportation planning."

I don't grok the OTC, however.  It's a staff-driven process with these monumental, gargantuan staff reports, and I have a difficult time seeing how active the commissioners can actually be in setting new policy.  They have to be more rubber-stampers than activists.  I have to think there's an enormously powerful and entrenched inertia in the bureaucracy at ODOT.  At the same time, at least theoretically, they are the board to which ODOT reports, and if five of them decided that carbon really was a problem, and public health really was a problem, and too much driving really was a problem, they could change ODOT's priorities.  

Big sigh.  Not gonna happen.

Still, if there are three new appointees in the works, it's something to watch.

1 comment:

Laurie Dougherty said...

Good news bout the Minto bridge. I hope it gets built before I get too old to bike on it.